Around France

Back to the Camargue: The White Horses

White horses, bulls, pink flamingos, rice, salt, culture, and the economics of the Camargue region are all interconnected in this surreal geo-triangle in the south of France.

The White Horses

The Camargue region spreads over more than 360 square miles of pastureland and wetlands formed by the two branches of the River Rhône and the Mediterranean. The largest river delta in Europe, the Camargue is a thriving center of agriculture and tourism.

Camargue region

Wetlands and grasslands of the Camargue

While the area appears to be a “natural” wilderness, it is, in fact, “manipulated” to maintain its sophisticated biodiversity. Most specifically, in the last century alone, enlightened promoters of the Camargue have demonstrated how the creative and sensitive management of water levels can create a productive environment for man and living creatures instead of a desolate, salty wasteland, good for nothing but the extraction of salt.

Camargue region Homes in the Camargue are for residents and are popular as vacation rentals.


Camargue region A ferry carries passengers between two areas of the region every 30 minutes.


Camargue region

Ferry over the Rhone


Camargue region

The distinctive symbol of the area. The Camargue Cross.

White Horses of the Camargue

Camargue region


The breed of “white horses” found in the Camargue is believed to have appeared in the Paleozoic era (Solutre horses). They are thought by some to have come from along the Silk Roads, the Steppe grasslands of Eurasia that run from modern Hungary to Mongolia.

Camargue region

Nomad horseback riders from the Steppe are typified by Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongols, and the Huns, led by Attila. Steppe warriors migrated south, seeking better lands. They waged war with inhabitants on the way, including the Romans. Along with them, the nomads brought their strong horses that had ruled the marshes for centuries.

The horses had large hooves for walking in muddy waters and white coats to endure the sun.

Those who believe in mythology say the white horses were a gift from Neptune, “Poseidon’s Horses,” given to man as his faithful companion and put on earth to share everyday riches.

Camargue region

Image by Walter Crane of Neptune’s horses

While the Camargue horses appear to run free, they are well-managed by “cowboys”  or “les gardians.”

Camargue Cowboy

Stallions roam the rocky grasslands– a tradition that has been respected for generations. The rustic breed only eats grass from the soil — no additives.

Camargue region

Bred properly, a Camargue mare produces only one foal annually by natural childbirth. There is no help from vets. Female horses must be quarantined one year after giving birth to allow time for rest.

Camargue region

Those who know these animals recognize they are intelligent. They are suitable for all types of endeavors — for work or show. It is essential to treat them gently but firmly. The trainer or handler needs to be in charge.

Visitors to the Camargue who wish to ride the white horses will find numerous stables and excursions available for all ages of riders. Entering the area is like a vacation playground with horses as one of the main attractions.

Camargue region

A hotel with a stable for horseback riding in the Camargue


If you have a few minutes, take the time to watch this video I found on YouTube. The majesty of the magnificent creatures and the accompanying music will make your day.



Camargue region


Categories: Around France, Blog, Camargue, Memories Tour

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13 replies »

  1. In winter of 1969 I went into FNAC in Paris and was awestruck by a slide-show of some Camargue horses running through a forest as snow fell. All the images were black and white. Mesmerizing images. I wish I could locate the maker to buy prints. I’ve inquired at FNAC and never got an answer. Dommage

    • I feel your pain. I saw the video that’s in this post on Youtube. Then I couldn’t find it again. I just love it! Sometimes I play it when I need a boost. Maybe someday the photos will show up again. You’ve been looking for a long time! Thanks for your note. Keep in touch.

    • Every time I visit the Camargue I see people bicycling. I’d love to do that someday, along with staying on one of the horse ranches. They have a name, but I can’t think of it. Good to hear from you, Keith!

  2. Deb, thank you for the history of these magnificent creatures. I loved the video so much that I have forwarded it to two of my granddaughter’s who ride. My still photos of the horses in their pasture show a very gentle demeanor and are not nearly as impressive as what was captured in the video. Thank you for making the Herculean effort to type out your blog! Please know how much that it is truly appreciated! ~ Rosemary

    • I’m so happy you experienced one of my favorite places. Wish. Could get there more often. The video makes my cry it’s so beautiful. Glad you shared it with your granddaughters. So glad we’re connected!

  3. Debby, thank you for reposting. I happened to accompany the Barefoot Blogger on her recent trip to the Camargue. It was one hot jeep ride with NINE total people in the jeep. When we started it was about 100 degrees outside. I would not have missed it! Visiting the Camargue was one of the top highlights of my ten year old daughter and my trip to France. It is a gorgeous area, full of nature, grapevines, bulls and wineries. Certainly a destination that is overlooked that should not be. Thank you, Barefoot Blogger, for taking us!

    • The pleasure was mine, Rhonda and McKenna. I enjoyed every minute with you, especially getting to watch McKenna take it all in. Come back soon! Love ya!

  4. Powerful, yet elegant…that video was amazing! I’ve been saving this to read till I had time to savor it….worth the wait. In Cary w/family, heading back tomorrow, w/family 😊. You are expanding my bucket list!!

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